(a) A qualified customer may apply for and shall receive shutoff protection from a service provider for a period of 180 days. The service provider may grant extensions after the initial 180-day period.
(b) A qualified customer may apply for shutoff protection for utility service by notifying the service provider that he or she is in need of assistance because of a reduction in household income as the result of a member of a qualified household being called to active duty status in the military.
(c) Notification of the need for assistance shall be submitted in writing and accompanied by a copy of the activation or deployment order of a service member that specifies the duration of the active duty status. The written notification shall also include self-certification that the qualified household of the qualified customer will be occupied by the qualified customer’s legal dependent or dependents during the duration of the shutoff protection period.
(d) A qualified customer receiving assistance under this section shall notify the service provider if the active duty status of the service member will be extended.
(e) If the qualified customer moves out of the residence that is receiving shutoff protection, he or she shall provide the service provider a written notice that includes the date of service termination and a forwarding address.
(f) Unless waived by the service provider, the shutoff protection provided under this section shall not void or limit the obligation of the qualified customer to pay for utility services received during the time of assistance.
(g) All service providers shall do the following:
(1) Establish a repayment plan requiring minimum monthly payments that allows the qualified customer to pay any past due amounts over a reasonable time period not to exceed one year after the service member’s release from active military duty.
(2) Not charge late payment fees or interest to the qualified customer during the period of military service or the repayment period.
(h) This section shall not affect or amend any rules or orders of the Public Utilities Commission pertaining to billing standards.
(i) If terms and conditions under this section are not followed by the qualified customer, the service provider may follow its procedures and rules on customer standards and billing practices for providing electric, water, and gas residential services.
(j) For public utilities regulated by the Public Utilities Commission, the commission shall allow recovery of reasonable costs incurred to implement this section.
(k) For purposes of this section:
(1) “Service provider” means a provider of utility services, including, but not limited to, public utilities that are subject to the jurisdiction of the Public Utilities Commission, local publicly owned electric utilities, as defined by Section 9604 of the Public Utilities Code, and public water, sewer, or solid waste collection services, or any combination thereof. “Service provider” does not include any corporation described in subdivision (a) of Section 234 of the Public Utilities Code.
(2) “Qualified customer” means the customer of record of a qualified household.
(3) A “qualified household” is a residential household for which the income is reduced because the customer of record, the spouse of the customer of record, or the registered domestic partner of the customer of record, as defined by Section 297.5 of the Family Code, is a service member called to full-time active military service by the President of the United States or the Governor of this state during a time of declared national or state emergency or war.